The IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Before and After and Lessons Learned

IKEA Kitchen Reno

So I was going to save this part for the end of all my kitchen posts. Then I realized I can’t talk about anything that we used in the kitchen without actually giving the whole thing away.

And I want to talk about the appliances, the sink and the realization that tiling is my husbands now least favourite thing since having had to paint our entire house white. And he will get to do that again soon (more about that later) but in the meantime, please feast your eyes on the kitchen we spent 5 years living with.

I know there are lots of arguments for that ‘in between’ reno. The Refresh if you will, so you can tolerate living with the kitchen  that you have, until you can save your money to actually gut it and do a full reno. Painting the cabinets. Changing your countertops. But with us it just snowballed into this, let’s see how bad it can get before we get tired of living with it mentality. And we were busy renovating the basement and the deck as well as a million other projects to turn the house around. That and I despise curved cabinets so painting them would not have made me like them better. Apologies to all you fans of them (and I know lots of my friends love them) they’re just not for me. Kind of like double bowl sinks. Read about that debate here.

Without further ado – THE KITCHEN BEFORE PHOTOS

northstory Kitchen Before photo (5)

northstory Kitchen Before photo (1)

northstory Kitchen Before photo (6)

northstory Kitchen Before photo (4)

northstory Kitchen Before photo (2)

Seriously, just looking at the epic disaster of those pics above gives my OCD hives. Because yes that is a box of KD in the corner of one shot.


northstory IKEA SEKTION kitchen reno - After

northstory kitchen reno - IKEA SEKTION - white scandinavian kitchen

White Scandinavian kitchen - IKEA SEKTION - northstory

IKEA SEKTION kitchen reno - white kitchen - butcher block countertops - northstory

IKEA SEKTION kitchen reno - northstory

Even the ghostie orbs came out for the photoshoot (Ok it was really sunny…)

It’s clean. It’s open concept. It’s bright. It’s modern.

If you visit my Decor page in my Project Gallery, you’ll see that the kitchen also flows with the rest of the projects and decor aesthetic throughout our home. Truth be told, we do like a little bit rustic (well my husband does) but it just didn’t suit the feel of this particular house. You’ll  also notice that it’s very minimal in its design. That is intentional. After living with years of clutter above, we wanted a spot for everything to be stored out of sight.

Kitchen Cabinet doors we used – the VEDDINGE line.

We went back and forth between shaker style and flat front cabinet doors and the reason we went with flat front is two fold – aside from the obvious renovation challenge of every couple and that is finances and this thing called a budget.

1) They’re easier to clean. At least for me. I’ve lived with shaker doors for well over half my life and while I LOVE the look of them, it is inevitable that I will not get on top of cleaning all the dust that falls into the grooves of the shaker doors in time. Sorry I have to be truthful here. If they were the darker fronts, I could deal better. But with white, you see dust and grease and I have tried and failed at keeping up appearances on them. With these, you spray and wipe and you are done.

2) The SEKTION line does offer a Shaker door style – the GRIMSLÖV – but for some reason they introduced them in an Off White/Cream colour vs a Bright White and in real life it was really disappointing to see them after the beautiful ADEL doors. Why IKEA changed the shades slightly is beyond me but they’re not the same thing. Go in person and compare. So we went with the VEDDINGE doors instead.

Products we used in the kitchen:

All of the appliances are from Frigidaire and they are from their Gallery line. You can read a review for each item here: Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range and Range Hood.

The faucet is from DELTA Faucet. It is the Trinsic Single Handle pull down featuring Touch2O technology – and if you want to see it in action, go check out my Instagram. It is spectacular and everyone who tries it think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread as you can touch any part of the faucet to turn the water on and off. Delta makes really great high quality faucets as well as other kitchen and bath items and they come in many different colours from stainless steel, to champagne bronze and matte black (which we used in our current kitchen).

4″ x 16″ white subway tile (made way more sense than the smaller size tiles) complimented the flow of the drawer cabinets and L shape of the kitchen.

The stainless steel backsplash behind the oven is from INOXIA and we picked that up at Home Depot.

Lessons and Tips that we learned:

  1. Order all your cabinets and pieces before you tear apart or demo your kitchen. Repeat that to sentence to yourself again. We waited over 5 months for a huge chunk of the drawer fronts, all of which IKEA reps assured me would be in stock within 2 weeks. What they didn’t count on was the demand for the SEKTION kitchen at the time that it launched and the manufacturer of the items couldn’t keep up with demand. Then when they arrived, they arrived in tiny shipments to various IKEA’s all around the country. There were a lot of angry people online. So before you so much as remove as hinge or a screw in your existing kitchen, make sure you have all the parts at your home.
  2. If you’re using butcher block, open the package while you’re at the IKEA store (unless you’re getting it shipped). The butcher block can fit into the back of your average pick up truck hortizontally (yes this includes the 98″ long piece). The reason we suggest to opening the end of the box, is it will tell you fairly quickly if it is warped. Wood as we all know, can warp. We discovered one of our pieces did after it arrived (we initially had it shopped) and had to go exchange it…and it was also temporarily sold out (see point #1 again). This way you it will save you the headache of returning it. Someone else had the same issue with their warped counter as we did and you can read their story in the comments of my Staining Butcher Block lessons post.
  3. The butcher block edges are curved. Therefore if you want to have a clean/as close as possible seam between your butcher block pieces (if you have a long counter and need more than once piece) DO NOT put the curved edges together. Filling that with wood filler will cause you nightmares. Use the curved edges at the ends and any cut pieces together. Ask me how I know. Can you spot it in the photo? That almost caused a divorce.
  4. Get the drawers on the bottom. Having now lived with this kitchen with drawer cabinets at the bottom, I’d be hard pressed to go back to regular vertical bottom cabinets. Drawers hold everything. EVERYTHING. You truly do get more space having those deep drawers. You can also get the drawers within the traditional vertical cabinet doors on the front if you prefer that look but you will however lose an inch or so of drawer space. And believe me, big cereal boxes mean that extra side inch of storage space helps.
  5. IKEA sells push open door hinges called the BESTA. So if you’re wondering why we don’t have handles on the top cabinets, it’s because they’re push hinges. So all you have to do is gently tap the door to open it and it pops open.
  6. By all means use the IKEA kitchen planner to plan out your kitchen layout. You can spend days on there trying out hundreds of combos.
  7. Sit down with a kitchen representative at least once. You can plan your kitchen on your IKEA Kitchen planner at home all you want, but they will definitely help with the finer details that you maybe didn’t know you could include or offer suggestions on what types of cabinets or filler pieces you may need. Highly recommend this.
  8. If you can wait til they have their Kitchen Event then seriously wait. We got back a big chunk of money for every 1000 we spent in there.
  9. The hanging rail system does make things easier than the old one – read how we installed it here.
  10. If you have a pick up location and a truck or a friend who has a truck, seriously take advantage of this and get your entire kitchen shipped closer to home for a mere $20.

One of the first questions we got asked when our friends and family saw it for the first time was “Are you putting something up on the walls next to range hood?” Well, we went back and forth on that and it was something that we were going to see how it felt down the line. One of the initial reasons we didn’t put anything up was because I truly hated washing dishes in that old kitchen and having that feeling of cabinets hanging over my head. Everything felt so closed in and it felt like a prison cell. It’s one of those things that falls under the age old advice of “live in a space before you renovate it” so that you can get a feel of what you like and don’t like about specific room so you’ll know what to change. That is one of them. That whole open wall makes me so happy right now because it is, to be blunt, breathing room. And it feels so great when you’re standing there cooking.

Now, if we were staying in this house, then maybe down the line we would have added some shelves.

Did you catch that? “if we were staying in this house.”

Yeah. See a funny thing happened at the same time that we finished the kitchen renovation (which took five months longer than we anticipated) and that is, a house came up for sale in our town. A house on a street in a model that we’ve always said we wanted. And it sat on the market. And sat and sat and sat. Like a good Dr. Seuss book would say. And we even missed our first viewing for it and it still sat. And then we went to see it and we understood why. While the bones are great and exterior is this perfect red brick farmhouse meets Victorian style home, it needs a full room by room renovation. We’re talking no updates of anything in over 20 years. Green walls. Old roof. Laminate floor so shiny you can figure skate on it. Dark purple walls. Dark green walls. Carpet. Stucco. It is a lot and I mean a lot of work and not many people wanted to tackle that.

Except us crazy kids. Because that home is what we want to be our long term home. So we put in an offer under asking and were shocked when it was accepted.

That led to putting this house up for sale and less than a week on the market later (though a very stressful one), we had a Sold sign on our front lawn. So yeah. I get to enjoy this kitchen or rather have gotten to enjoy this finished kitchen for a grand total of a month, possible two?

And if you think our old kitchen in the before photos was terrible, wait until you see the one we have to renovate in the new place. I honestly don’t have the words. I’ll just have to show you in photos in the future. On the bright side it will be one of the first renovations we do and that kitchen is going to be a different one from this one.

I’ve already started adding ideas to my Pinterest board and my husband is pretending I don’t send him texts about it with links all the time. Black kitchen cabinets anyone? Our next kitchen will be very different from this one.

UPDATE – We’ve moved. See our new kitchen renovation in progress.

Want to read about the whole process and see the Before and After?

Part 1 of the Kitchen Reno story: The Beginning

Part 2 of the Kitchen Reno story: Installing your IKEA SEKTION Kitchen

Part 3 of the Kitchen Reno story: Adventures in Staining Butcher Block 

Part 4 of the Kitchen Reno story: The IKEA SEKTION kitchen, Before and After


All about my Frigidaire Gallery Refrigerator

A review of my Frigidaire Electric Range

A review about my Frigidaire Glass Canopy Hood

Our Frigidaire Dishwasher



  • Reply
    Casey @waffling
    September 13, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    I love the kitchen! So bright and airy. Cant wait to see what you do with the new place too

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Casey! It works with the flow of the house as the whole floor is now one big open concept feeling. The next house is probably going to be a bit more rustic. I can’t even believe I wrote that.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2015 at 12:37 am

    What a difference a day makes, well a few months. I love it. Sorry you won’t get to use it for too long.

  • Reply
    Virginia Fynes
    September 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    GASP!!! This look so Amazing Alex! It must break your heart a little to have to leave it behind!

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      It makes me sad in the sense that I love how it turned out but it did teach us a lot about what we want and don’t want for the next home reno. It’s good though, I got a white butcher block counter top Scandinavian style kitchen out of my system. LOL!

  • Reply
    September 15, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Wow, amazing! It looks beautiful. Will you be doing more renos in the new house?

    • Reply
      September 17, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Lots of renos at the new house. Kitchen, flooring, paint, roof, backyard. You name it, it’s probably going to be overhauled over the next 10 years. It’s good thing we love the home because even just writing that…oh man.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Hi Alex, we love your kitchen and planning to do similar reno this summer for a client. Can you let us know the brand of cabinet pulls, they look incredible as does the whole kitchen! Great work and hope you are enjoying it!

    • Reply
      June 6, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Hi there! Sorry for the late reply. The handles are the ORRNÄS ones. We have since moved (I know after doing the reno) and am now back to a 20 year old mess of a kitchen with another one to renovate in several years.

  • Reply
    Shannon Morse (@shanmorse)
    July 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Such an awesome transformation! We are actually in the process of installing a white Veddinge kitchen ourselves and we also chose a butcher block counter and will be putting in some white subway tile. Do you mind sharing what color the wall paint is? Yours seems to compliment everything perfectly!

    • Reply
      July 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      My super fancy wall colour is – wait for it – Behr Premium Ultra Pure White. The simple, basic, bulk paint that you can get at Home Depot in the giant buckets. I always try to envision telling people it’s some very expensive designer white but it’s a cost effective one and really one of my fav whites. We’ve used it in several places we’ve lived. Hope that helps!

      • Reply
        August 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

        Thanks for this – I’m doing something similar and I’ve been scouring the internet for a paint to match the cabinets – or compliment. Which kind of finish did you pick? Flat, Satin, eggshell??

        • Reply
          August 22, 2016 at 5:05 pm

          I *believe* it was Eggshell. It was at the most Satin. I am not a fan of glossy wall paint and I know it was not the kitchen and bath formula. What makes that statement ironic is that in our new home, we did use a Kitchen and Bath paint from a different brand, Dulux (also their basic white) and we used a regular Eggshell in the same colour and we can’t tell the difference between the two. Something in the formula is supposed to be different with regards to mildew and such, but aesthetically I can’t tell them apart once they’re on the walls.

  • Reply
    Realty Housewife
    January 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Oh wow – that’s beautiful! I love the new layout. I love looking at kitchen layouts because it makes such a big difference to the house. We just recently did our own IKEA kitchen install on a rental unit, you can read about it here. It also took us about 5 months longer than we anticipated:

  • Reply
    Criz Q
    May 31, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    This is beautiful! If you don’t mind, can I ask what you use for the corner cabinet? We have the same problem right now. We need a blind cabinet next to the sink. Planning our IKEA kitchen so any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Reply
      June 3, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Sorry for the late reply! We built a frame for it and then just butted the 2 cabinets (the sink one and the vertical storage one to the right of the oven) to either side of the frame and then put the counter top over it. There may be a hack somewhere with one of their corner cabinets or finding a box frame for “a” cabinet from their SEKTION line that could fit your space and then be joined with the sink cabinet. We did a bench hack for our new kitchen and they were able to order the cabinet frames and the cabinet doors/drawers separately for us. Definitely check with the IKEA kitchen people. I am sure they will have a solution.

  • Reply
    Criz Q
    June 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    That’s great! We will definitely ask the IKEA kitchen people then. Thanks so much!!!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I realize this was from a while ago! You had mentioned a couple times why you prefer single sink versus a double sink but I can’t find anywhere that you talk more about it! I would love to know your reasons!!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I do not know who you are or where you live, but your “before” pics are EXACTLY identical to the cupboards, handles and countertops in the kitchen I am currently replacing with an IKEA kitchen. IDENTICAL. Freaky!

    • Reply
      August 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      HA! They’re pretty standard builder grade nightmare cupboards. I don’t know at what point in the 80’s this became trendy but I want to go back and do an intervention. Good luck with your reno! I hope all goes well. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 14, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I just bought a Veddinge kitchen and it will be arriving soon. I am freaking out because I read they chip easily. Is this true? Im on a budget but I feel like going into the store and changing the order to the high gloss which has better reviews. Please share your experience!

    • Reply
      October 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      The VEDDINGE line can chip but so do a lot of other cabinet doors. I have a hardwood typewriter desk that’s easily 50 years old and it has knicks, cuts and scratches on it and I know it’s better quality than most of the “wood” products that we buy now. In terms of them being easier to chip, they can ding if you hit them with a pan or a sharp object. But overall I didn’t have any regrets using the fronts (we currently do not live at that house anymore so I can’t answer this in terms of a long term experience). High Gloss is also a very different look than that of the VEDDINGE line so it depends on how modern you’d like to go.

      If we didn’t go with the LAXARBY for this kitchen, I would have used the VEDDINGE again. The good part about any IKEA kitchen is that you can change the fronts at any point if they do get damaged or you don’t like the look in 10 years. There is also a You Tube video called Not in love with Veddinge where he does a series of tests on various IKEA cabinet fronts. My experience with them was very different from his. I cleaned them and our kids stuck things to them and they didn’t chip or peel off. Hope that helps some!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    I found your friends comments regarding the blank wall hilarious and the small freestanding oven very kitch, I understand things are a bit backwards on the other side of the ocean. But unless it’s a 9 foot wide country range cooker, everyone in Europe has a built in oven, and appliances, good to see the huge ugly American fridge freezers with inaccessible lower shelves are disappearing. Marble topped islands were all the rage over here and floor to ceiling cupboards on one wall are in now. With fancy pull out racks making use of deep cupboards and units like fridges and ovens at chest height for ease of use… After all they are used a lot.

    Good luck with the new house, good on you for having a blank wall for some headspace to chop and prep food. Kitchen looked a lot better, if only a half half of what IKEA designed.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Hi,That was a great clean look you went with. I just installed a Venddinge kitchen and love the look. Did you find a white pait that matched the cabinet white?

    • Reply
      May 17, 2018 at 9:23 am

      We always used BEHR Ultra Pure White. It’s been our go to white paint for many years.

  • Reply
    Patricia Greenaway
    June 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I used the Veddinge doors in a bathroom project–purchased them with the intention of painting them a custom color, which went on just fine. The doors are painted, not melamine, so a light sand was all that was needed. I did run into a major problem. I used a jigsaw to cut a rectange out of the center of a Veddinge door so I could insert a glass panel. I put painters tape along the cut lines, and after the cut I pulled off the tape and ALL of the paint under the tape came off! I was shocked. Pain in the neck to rebuild the finish to the point it wasn’t visible on the finished product. Have you researched a close paint match to the Veddinge white? Trying to color match some trim around a tall cabinet that I left white.

    • Reply
      June 29, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Sorry for the late reply! Since writing this post, we have moved but the colour of the walls are BEHR in Ultra Pure White. Not sure if they’re identical to the VEDDINGE. I am sorry I can’t be of more help. You can always bring in a cabinet door to your local paint store and they’re able to suggest a colour match.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    My stove/sink setup is pretty similar to yours. I have a much smaller kitchen and have an awkward “cut-out” right next to the stove, so unfortunately it forces the stove to be right against the wall. I have very little space between the stove and approximately where the sink should go. I love the little shelf idea; I might steal that!

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